With over 100 years of history, “Atwater has a history of spooky sightings of ghosts and sounds,” said Anton.
Perhaps the most dramatic sighting of Anton’s was in his early years working in the district. In 1988, when Anton was just beginning his work at Atwater, “We had an antique show at Atwater and [the janitors] had to stay all night and guard them. That was the first time I saw things. At two in the morning the old clocks they had were chiming and you’d see stuff moving around in the stairwells. You could see a cloud flowing up the steps, just like the students do, and going out the window towards St. Roberts,” Anton said.
Many of the spooky things at the school happen late at night.
“If you’re ever here at night, sometimes you’re walking the halls and the elevators will just open, but no one will be there. Other night janitors tell me that they see that too, they think someone’s playing games with them but there’s no one there,” Anton said.
There are many spooky phenomena that have been happening at Atwater since Anton was a student. A room with a mural on it that was painted in the 40s has always perplexed Anton.
“It is covered in lots of little people, and I swear every time I go in there the people are in different positions. Sometimes they even look like they’re holding knives or guns. The room is just storage now, probably because it was too creepy,” Anton said.
Atwater has a similar ghost to Lake Bluff’s, one known for haunting a girl’s bathroom, as retold by Justine Spore, senior. Her story occurs in the girls bathroom in the basement next to Mr. Stanco’s room.
“Legend has it that one time this girl went into the bathroom and for whatever reason she died in the stall furthest from the door. It was closest to this really freaky looking radiator on the wall. So anyways, she died, and now haunts the bathroom. However, many years later, a girl went into the bathroom and she used the last stall, which is, like, sacrilegious, and when she got out green slime started coming out of the radiator and was creeping towards her on the floor. So she stumbled back and put her hand on the wall, and when she took it off she had cuts all over her hand. She ran to turn the sink on and blood came out of the faucet. And then she ran out, and no one has used the last stall ever since,” Spore says, “[Personally,] I’ve never used the last stall– I don’t want to get attacked by the demon. Everyone knows about this, and not a single girl uses the last stall,” Spore confesses.
While the custodians always joke about getting dizzy when they go to SIS, due to the school’s round shape, not much has happened to arouse the janitor’s suspicions at the school. The only mysterious instance was the case where the janitors repeatedly found food and objects in the ceilings of the bathrooms.
“They would always find stuff in the ceilings … empty bottles, garbage, lunches. I don’t know how it all got up there in the ceiling– that was really unusual,” Anton said.
Our dear high school may be deceptively un-unusual. The tunnels, as mentioned above, are musty and less accessible, but not so spooky.
Other suspicious places at SHS include the yearbook’s namesake.
“[In the Copperdome,] there used to be a lot of language classes up there, and I swear when you go up there at night you hear a bunch of garble, tongues, different languages going around, echoing down the stairwell,” Anton said.
Anton also comments that the often unexplained and intense fires and flooding in the drama building merit some consideration.
“I’d hate to be around there late at night,” Anton said.
Shorewood’s slightly younger elementary school has plenty to share when it comes to mysterious stories.
Perhaps one of the most visible mysteries are the “glows” that are seen around Lake Bluff and by janitors at Atwater as well. They often appear along the west hallway on the second floor by the Little Theater. Anton comments that they are seen by him and his coworkers and appear to be in the distance, like a light was left on. But when they proceed to investigate, the light disappears or travels away.
In the theater that lies at the end of a hallway in Lake Bluff, Anton has often seen the stage’s curtains ruffling, as if someone is there, but upon further searching he finds nothing that would have caused the movement.
For students, the building has inspired some legendary tales that have thrust fear into the hearts of many children. The ghost of Irene in the girls bathroom by the 1st grade classrooms is a legend that has lived on. Current senior, Alison Reinhoffer, recounts the legend of the bathroom’s ghost.
“In the Lake Bluff girls bathroom … lived the ghost of Irene. Irene was a student back in the day, but she died because she hit her head on the mirror, which explained why there was a crack in the mirror. So then her soul went to live in the toilets. If you sat too long on the toilet, her soul would come up and stab your butt,” Reinhoffer explained. “As a first grader using this bathroom, I would always keep the stall door open to facilitate a quick getaway, in case she came up and tried to harm me, and I would never flush because I was afraid it would upset her.”
Anton and his coworkers have also seen mysterious activity in the girls bathroom on the second floor by the little theatre.
“The stall doors open and close and the toilets flush once and awhile all on their own. The woman who worked at night cleaning the bathroom said she always got it done before the sun set because it got really creepy at night. She’d hear the doors and the toilets when no one was there and see the glowing lights traveling out the windows,” Anton said.
The school exterior is not exempt from the eeriness. The roofs of both elementary schools have vents and other air circulation devices that often make loud banging noises during windy or stormy weather.
“Once and a while you’ll have a really calm night and hear a lot of banging of the various valves on the roof. You start to wonder what the hell is going on up there,” Anton said.
by Monica Dix